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Venice as a Metaphor for the World

Art & Society

Teresa Fiore, Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University, leads a discussion with Karin Coonrod, director of Compagnia de’ Colombari’s production of The Merchant of Venice, and Alessandro Cassin, deputy director of Centro Primo Levi in New York, on otherness, immigration, and religion.

Coonrod’s production The Merchant of Venice is the starting point for a conversation on immigration and religion as central issues in our contemporary world. The conversation will also include presentations by Alessandro Cassin on the Jewish Ghetto in Venice and by Teresa Fiore on immigration and exclusion.

This panel highlights the global relevance of Shakespeare’s play – recently described by Stephen Greenblatt in The New Yorker as “a cure against xenophobia” – and in particular of Coonrod’s approach to it, characterized by multilingualism and ethnic, racial, and gender diversity. The conversation aims at showing how, at a time of socio-political uncertainty for the Western world in its experience of “the other,” the play as well as the Venice ghetto where it was staged have precious ethical and cultural lessons to share about human rights, and cross-cultural and interfaith dialogue. It is in this context that Venice can function as a metaphor of the world.

Teresa Fiore is the Theresa and Lawrence R. Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University. The recipient of several fellowships (De Bosis, Rockefeller, and Fulbright), she was Visiting Assistant Professor at Harvard University, NYU, and Rutgers University. Fiore is the author of Pre-Occupied Spaces: Remapping Italy’s Transnational Migrations and Colonial Legacies (Fordham University Press, 2017) and the editor of the 2006 issue of Quaderni del ‘900 on John Fante. Her numerous articles on Italian American culture, migration to and from Italy, Sicilian culture, and 20th-century Italian literature and cinema have appeared in Italian, English and Spanish in both journals and edited collections. She coordinates a regular program of cultural events and educational initiatives on campus, through which she has also presented performances, workshops and talks linked to Italian theater: montclair.edu/inserra

Karin Coonrod is a theater artist whose work has been seen and heard across the US and around the world. Hailed by The New York Times as “prodigiously inventive” and “galvanic” and by The New York Observer for “clear-eyed imaginative intelligence,” Coonrod’s most recent works include her own play, texts&beheadings/ElizabethR, at the Folger Theatre in Washington, DC and at BAM/Next Wave Festival (2015), Shakespeare’s The Tempest at La MaMa Theatre in New York City (2014); Monteverdi’s Orfeo at Palazzo Simoncelli in Orvieto, Italy (2014); Gertrude Stein’s The world is round is round is round in upstate New York (2013); and Shakespeare’s Love’s Labor’s Lost at the Public Theater (2011). She is founding director of the acclaimed Arden Party Theater Company in downtown New York City 1987-1997 (during which time she won an Encore Award for her direction of the American premiere of Roger Vitrac’s Victor or Children Take Over). She is also founding director of Compagnia de’ Colombari and is currently on the faculty of the Yale School of Drama.

Alessandro Cassin is director of publishing at Centro Primo Levi’s CPL EDITIONS and of the online magazine, Printed Matter. Coming from a tradition of publishing — his father’s Orion Press published the first edition of Levi’s If This Is A Man in English in 1959 — Cassin began working in experimental theater and was awarded the Premio Ruggero Rimini 1989 for Il Presidente Schreiber. He has been a cultural reporter for publications including L’Espresso and Diario. He is a contributor to The Brooklyn Rail. His book Whispers: Ulay on Ulay co-authored with Maria Rus Bojan received the 2015 AICA Netherlands Award. He coordinated the publication of Lawrence “Butch” Morris’ The Art of Conduction, edited by Daniela Verenesi (Karma, 2017).

This event is co-presented by the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies and the Office of Arts & Cultural Programming at Montclair State University, in collaboration with the Centro Primo Levi in New York, the Italian Program (Department of Modern Languages and Literatures) and the Jewish American Studies Program at Montclair State University.